When you think about power, what comes to mind?
No doubt, pictures people wearing of classy tuxedoes and driving luxury cars are at the forefront of your mind. I mean, power is something that looks so good, feels so right. When you think of power, you tend to think of Presidents, Generals, the rich and famous.
But when talking about the NBA, the man with the power isn’t the one who wears a suit every day. In fact, the man with the real power grew up on the streets of Akron, Ohio with hardly a dollar to his name.
Since his early High School days, there was just something about LeBron James that made him special. Be it by his talent, his attitude, or maybe a little of both, James became a hit before he even stepped foot in the professional world.
When he finally did make it to the NBA, he was not shy about proclaiming himself the new face of basketball. He donned the number 23, embraced the popular nickname “King James,” and played with such a dominating attitude, it was almost like he demanded attention. That infamous pre-game powder toss he brilliantly performed before each game was just another way he captured the minds of his audience. And capturing minds, that’s what he does best.
When he played, when he spoke, the world was watching and the world was listening. If he wanted his team to sign a particular guy, that’s what they did. If he wanted the refs to call in his favor, that’s usually what he got.
He gained power and fame faster than anyone else had before. And yes–even faster than that guy named Michael Jordan. See, MJ never had the internet and social media like LeBron has today. He didn’t come in right away ready to be hailed the next “King” like LeBron did fourteen years ago.
Amazingly, it seems like “King” James was born for this role. The shoe deals, the media coverage, the fame, the fortune. It’s all his, every last bit. On the court, his impact is so big that he can turn any team into a title contender. He essentially controls which teams are relevant, and plays a huge role in the way other teams plan their future.
Off the court, he uses his grip on the NBA world to make sure his name is always buzzing. He controls what the media spits out, and controls what the people see. His power extends beyond the reach of teams and organizations. His power extends beyond referees and commissioners. His time is now, and his dominion over the league can’t be questioned anymore.
Remember in 2010, when LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers? The decision wasn’t one that went under the table. No, he literally announced to the world on live TV that he’d leave the Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Miami Heat and team up with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.
A simple announcement turned into a huge, dramatic event that rocked the future of NBA basketball. Because he joined the Heat, the Cavs suffered for the next four seasons, failing to reach the Playoffs in each one. Because he moved to Miami, the Heat created a historically successful dynasty that would make four straight trips to the Finals while winning 2 Championships in a row. Other Eastern contenders were helpless, LeBron James and the Miami Heat were absolutely dominating the East.
When he finally went back to the Cavs in 2014, that choice rocked the league once again. The Cavs instantly became title contenders while the Miami Heat was left in bitter disarray. Ever since then, most NBA teams and players make their moves either to beat LeBron or to join with LeBron. It all starts and ends with him.
Because of his choices, guys like Kevin Durant weren’t afraid to make the controversial decisions. Teams like Golden State showed no hesitation in building a super-dynasty to last through the ages. And the NBA itself became fixated on one thing: who can beat LeBron James?
For LBJ, it’s not about the luxury cars or the fancy tux. It’s about having the power put the entire league on its heels with a single sentence. It’s about the talent and the attitude, and the glamour all combining to form a face the world can’t ignore. And sure, it may only be temporary.
But, for now, that small basketball kid from Akron, Ohio now has enough influence to change the fate of an entire sports world. That, well, that is something we really haven’t seen before.